Friday, July 16, 2010

Drugs in Prison

There is a new banner-carrier for the mouthy Right wingers in Parliament, a shrill and strident voice that reveals ignorance with every uttered syllable. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Philip Davies MP.

Obviously a Tory of the 'bang 'em up' school of mindlessness, Davies has been badgering the Justice Ministry about the quantity of drugs in prison. He seems to advocate unheard of levels of security, including closed visits, in order to reduce drugs supply.

Let us leave aside the role of crooked prison staff in this equation and follow Davies as he implements his plan...

A little known fact outside of the prison community is that the number of domestic visitors to prisoners has collapsed in the last decade. Just as the population doubles, the visitors are halved. By coincidence, this reluctance on the part of our families and friends to share our company developed precisely as new, oppressive security measures were implemented. You try holding a marriage together if the most contact you can share is a hug at the start and awkward hand-holding across a dividing table. Forget holding your young kids.

These restrictions were introduced to reduce drug smuggling. They have had an effect but not a large one. Conversely, they have done an excellent job of shattering our relationships.

And guess what? Having family support and social stability on release is one of the largest mitigators against re-offending. The very policy designed to prevent criminal activity has a direct effect on increasing it. I couldn't make this stupidity up.

You would think that, somewhere in those Government offices that cost us so much that a lone geek, stuck in the far corner of a shabby office, raised his hand and pointed this out when the policy was being debated. You'd think.

You'd be wrong. In the mountains of policy papers and regulations about preventing drugs entering prisons, the only mention our visitors get is in terms of being potential smuggler. Their role in keeping us on the straight and narrow is completely absent. Not a single word recognises this.

So, if Philip Davies gets his way, we will be forced to see our families with a thick sheet of glass between us. Just like America, and we all know how well their prison system is working out...

It would reduce drug use in prison. Which doesn't mean that the drug users will stay off drugs on release. It may cut future drug related crime. But this idea will also destroy our family structures and social support, which increases the odds of future re-offending.

This dilemma illustrates perfectly why I get extremely bored by mouthy politicians who can't resist the rent-a-quote shilling. These people tend to be ignorant, picking up half an idea but failing to think it through. It is more important to them that their quote looks just right in the Daily Mail, than actually addressing the problem.

Facile, ignorant and dangerously ambitious. These MP's, such as Philip Davies, should be mercilessly ridiculed for their simplicity until they are driven either into silencing or educating themselves.


  1. Standing up for the lone geek, I'm sure he did. But no one listened ...

  2. I think I agree with Richard. The kind of politician who sits down and studies all the complexities and shades of gray in a situation before opening their mouths has always just been that kind of person and would probably have listened to 'Geek in the corner'. People like Mr Davies have an ingrained level of arrogance that is off the charts and have probably never listened to anyone on any subject unless the person is kissing their ass whilst sharing the same cock-eyed logic.

    Just out of interest, if Kenneth Clarke were to ask you how you'd control the level of drugs in prison, what would you say to him?


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